On the day I was born, the air was a supple stew—heavy with overripe fruit and armpits, ocean salt, and slow-roasted goat meat. Of course, I don’t remember that day, but I was born in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam—just ‘Dar’ to the locals—and the viscosity of the air is the first thing that visitors remark on. It is what they remember most.
St. Christopher strides across the river. Both hands grip a walking staff bracing him against the current, his calf muscles flexing as fish swirl about his legs. He is looking up at the infant Christ perched birdlike on his right shoulder. This is perhaps the moment in which the Saint, who does not yet know the identity of the child, is said to ask Him, “Why are you so heavy?” and Christ answers, “Because I bear on my shoulders the weight of the world.”
One thing was for sure: Elise couldn't be Robert's void wife. On the day the void was scheduled to hit San Francisco, she hid from him in the ruin of the Sutro Baths. She gazed out at the Pacific while behind her, the void consumed Oakland. The void had appeared six months ago in a slender belt around the globe near the 90th meridian, slicing through Detroit and New Orleans, Bangkok and the Kirov Islands of Russia. Since then it had expanded in both directions on both sides of the planet at the rate of seventy miles a day, like two immense pairs of lids drawing over the eye of the earth.